EGYPT PICTURES: Ancient Animal Graves From Private Zoo?

 EGYPT PICTURES: Ancient Animal Graves From Private Zoo?
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September 14, 2009--At the edge of a cemetery in Hierakonpolis, Egypt's first city, lies a baboon, buried 3,500 years ago in a tomb near others containing nine dogs and six cats. It was these animals' job to protect the elite necropolis.

Hierakonpolis, south of Cairo, has more animal burials than any early Nile Valley urban center. But their purpose has long puzzled archaeologists.

This summer, site director Renee Friedman found evidence the animals belonged in a menagerie kept by the city's ruler--the earliest evidence of a practice that later spread through Egypt.

"All these big animals were symbols of power," Friedman says.

--Patrick Walters for National Geographic magazine
—Photograph courtesy Renée Friedman
 
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